Release Day Blitz and Giveaway for Performance Review by Tamryn Eradani (excerpt)

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Title:  Performance Review

Series: Daniel and Ryan, book 5

Author: Tamryn Eradani

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 29, 2017

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 11600

Genre: Contemporary, BDSM, businessmen, friends to lovers, bisexual

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Synopsi

After a day testing Daniel’s limits and then a day being spoiled, Daniel has some time to reflect on his and Ryan’s relationship. He thinks they’re ready for their next step; planning a weekend away.

Excerpt

Performance Review
Tamryn Eradani © 2017
All Rights Reserved

 

Sundays are the one day of the week that Daniel doesn’t run, which also makes it the one day of the week he lets himself sleep in. There’s no alarm yanking him out of his sleep, no carefully planned morning routine to force him out of bed. Instead, he wakes slowly, arms stretching out, reaching toward the far side of the bed.

His hand knocks into an extra pillow, but doesn’t encounter another person, and that makes Daniel open his eyes. There’s supposed to be someone else in bed with him.

The other side of the bed is empty, and Daniel brushes his hand over the empty space. The sheets are cool. Which means Ryan’s been up for a while. Craning his head to get a look into the bathroom, Daniel sees that the lights are off.

Daniel pushes down the wave of hurt that comes when he realizes Ryan’s left him to go into the other room. Daniel leaves Ryan sleeping alone in the bed all time, especially on Saturdays when he wakes up much earlier so he can go running. And it’s not like he needs Ryan here.

He just wants him.

Awake now, Daniel slides out of bed, pausing as the first movement he makes alerts him to the fact that his entire body is sore. It’s an achy kind of pain, from his neck to his toes, muscles complaining that he didn’t even know he has. That’s what he gets for being so tense last night. Turns out not getting to come over and over again is a full body workout.

He likes the soreness. It’s not painful. It’s a reminder every time he moves of what happened last night. A reminder of how desperate he was. Desperate enough to cry. Desperate enough to beg Ryan to fuck him.

Daniel flushes, embarrassed even though he’s the only one in the room. It’s another useless emotion. There’s nothing for him to be ashamed of. If Daniel didn’t want Ryan to fuck him, then they wouldn’t be in a sexual relationship. And if Ryan didn’t want Daniel begging for it, then he wouldn’t have teased Daniel for as long as he did.

Then why isn’t he here, the insidious part of Daniel’s brain wants to know.

Daniel forces himself out of the room, but he doesn’t go looking for Ryan right away. He goes to Ryan’s bedroom instead, because his overnight bag didn’t make it to the guest bedroom, and Daniel doesn’t like wandering around his own apartment without clothes on, let alone Ryan’s apartment.

He pulls on a pair of sweatpants and a plain white V-neck, but it’s a little chilly in the apartment, and he looks around for something warmer. He has a sweatshirt in his bag, but it’s not what he wants. His eyes fall on one of Ryan’s cardigans, hanging over the open closet door. So close to being put back away.

Daniel plucks it from its current resting place, and slips his arms through the sleeves. Ryan doesn’t wear cardigans to work, or he hasn’t yet that Daniel’s seen, but he has a whole collection of them in his apartment. They’re all stretched at the sleeves or fraying at the collar. This one is light blue, and its sleeves are loose from being rolled up too many times.

Daniel tugs the sleeves over his hands and goes to find the owner of the cardigan.

Ryan’s in the guest room, standing by the bed with two plates in his hands and looking confused.

Daniel watches him wander over to check the bathroom, before he says, “Looking for someone?”

Ryan turns around, smiling when he spots Daniel in the doorway. “I was hoping to catch you before you got out of bed,” he says, holding up the two plates of breakfast for Daniel to see.

“Breakfast in bed?” Daniel asks. “Isn’t that messy?”

“We’ve got to wash the other sheets anyways.” Ryan sits down on the bed. “Come on, live adventurously.”

“I thought that’s what we did last night,” Daniel says, but he joins Ryan on the bed.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Tamryn studied English and Creative Writing in school but has been writing since she could first hold a pencil. Recently, she’s turned her focus towards writing erotica. She enjoys writing stories where sex comes first, then feelings, because doing things out of order can be fun.

Tamryn has spent the past few months writing the Daniel and Ryan series with a lovely view of mountains out her window, and she’s now searching for a new mountain range to serve as her backdrop as she begins her next project.

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A Book Release Highlight! Spritzer – A Sparkling Gay Romance by Jon McDonald (guest blog with a short story, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Spritzer: A Sparkling Gay Romance

Author: Jon McDonald

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 27

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 75300

Genre: Romance, LGBT, gay, bisexual, contemporary, enemies to lovers, humorous, romance

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✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jon McDonald here today to celebrate the release of his new book, Spritzer: A Sparkling Gay Romance.  He’s brought a remarkable short story along with him for our readers, in addition to an excerpt and giveaway.  Welcome, Jon!

✒︎

Jon McDonald: Here’s a short story from another of my NineStar books, Gotta Dance with the One Who Brung Ya.

Midnight Clear

   There was a seam on the roadway crossing the bridge, such that when a car passed over, it sent a thump thump echoing underneath. When it was busy during the day, the thump thumps came frequently, overlapping and creating a thunder that echoed along the riverbank. During the night, the sound came infrequently and accented the stillness.

   It was going to be a very cold Christmas Eve—with the scent of snow already in the air—and there had been a few flurries as the afternoon gathered into dusk before the clutch of night took its frigid hold.

   Rainbow and Gal were huddled around their meager fire, kept alive by scavenging the riverbank for anything that would burn—hopefully through the entire night. Their few belongings were stacked up like sandbags around a foxhole to help keep out the needles of icy wind. The tips of their fingers poked out through worn gloves as they fumbled with a dented pot to heat water so they could use the damaged Ramen Noodle Soup packet scrounged from a dumpster behind the 7–Eleven . Maybe Gal would wait till midnight to give Rainbow his gift—a short flask of brandy that Gal had saved for from a week of panhandling when Rainbow wasn’t around.

   In country, the coppers flew overhead like crazy-wheeling drunks—thump thump, thump thump. Rainbow was Corporal Edward Declan Connelly—Boston Irish. So raw he still thought they were fighting the enemy for the good of the country. He was called Rainbow because he was that way. His best and only buddy was Gal—short for Gallagher but also because he was perceived to be Rainbow’s gal. They had soon found each other despite the monsoons, the mud, the lousy food, the blood, the moans, the endless boredom, and the constant rain of shells—thump thump, thump thump. They managed, however, to get away together now and then for half an hour, hidden amongst the sacks of flour in the storeroom behind the mess. Time so precious and ever so brief, their hearts—thump thump, thump thump.

   After the slaughter was over, and they were shipped home and dumped on the streets of LA, they stayed together. Somewhat broken, keenly cunning, resourceful as two feral cats, together they opened a shop repairing typewriters and small business machines. Then came the computer. They struggled, tried to adapt, created more debt to stay afloat, and finally had to flee in the dead of night in their broken-down Pontiac to the Rocky Mountain west. Their car barely made it across the Continental Divide—thump thump.

   They never completely recovered. Too many demons. Too much alcohol. Inner wounds too tender. But they stayed together through it all. There was never one without the other through many decades, many journeys, many disappointments.

  * * * * *

   “Deck, oh Deck. I can’t believe you’re still abed. And this being Christmas morning and all.” His mother called him Deck, not Eddie. But he didn’t want to stir. The room was cold—the covers warm, scooched up tight around his head, cradling his ear. Only his susceptible eyes and nose were exposed to the bite from the window slightly ajar. He promised he’d get up at the count of ten.

   “Eight, nine, nine and a half, nine and three quarters…”

  * * * * *

    “Soup’s ready.” Gal offered Rainbow the watery, soft noodles.

    “Thanks.”

    It was dark now. The fire glowed and sputtered. Gal put on a few more pieces of wood from a broken table someone had tossed onto the riverbank rather than take to the dump. They ate in silence.

   Thump thump. Rainbow’s mind wandered to the sleeper car his family was taking to Chicago to visit his grandmother; snuggled in his berth, eyes almost closed. Thump thump. The sound of the train lulled him toward sleep. Thump thump. He always watched for that moment when waking turns into sleep like a snake gliding silently into water. But he could never quite grasp it—it always just slipped away. Thump thump, thump thump.

   Gal always cooked. Rainbow always cleaned—tonight taking their few bowls and cooking pot down to the stream to wash up. With tonight’s cold, it was hard to find any running water, and Rainbow had to hack at some ice to find the little trickle to serve his need. Though poor and without much provision, they were both meticulous about keeping clean—their persons and their possessions. Rainbow carefully rinsed the pot and bowls and climbed back up the bank to their shelter under the bridge. He stored the utensils and scooted up close to Gal, sitting by the fire.

   “Here, let me warm you,” Gal whispered as he straddled Rainbow from behind, wrapping his blanket around the both of them. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his gift. “I know it’s not quite Christmas yet but thought you could use this now.” He opened the brandy and handed it to Rainbow. Rainbow bowed his head in gratitude and offered the first sip to Gal.

   They sat like that for some time, drinking quietly, the cars overhead passing less often now. Thump…thump.

   Rainbow was the first to notice the child—six, maybe seven. The way the boy stood at the edge of the bridge it looked as though he was lit from within, but of course, Rainbow thought, it had to be the play of the streetlight against the ice reflecting up from the river below.

   “Gal…” Rainbow breathed so softly it could hardly be heard. Gal looked up and saw the child now holding out both his hands filled with Christmas cookies.

   “For you,” the child said softly.

  * * * * *

   Eddie continued his countdown, “Nine, nine and a half, nine and three quarters. Nine and seven-eighths…”

   “Edward Declan Connelly, I am not going to call you again,” his mother boomed from the kitchen.

   “Oh boy, she means business now.” Eddie knew that for sure. And for just a minute longer he savored the warmth of the covers trying to drag him back into sleep. But then he could smell the wafting scents of Christmas—oatmeal, apples, cinnamon, brown sugar. And there were tangerines, coffee, and bacon sizzling on the stove. He bounded up and out of bed, shut tight the window, and still in his pajamas with the fuzzy feet, faced the light pouring through the door and quietly walked toward his mother.

  * * * * *

   The police cruiser was parked on the bridge, the lights blinking and swirling. Thump thump. Two officers were responding to a call from a pedestrian who believed he had spotted something suspicious under the bridge. The officers scrambled down the riverbank and peered. It was dim and hard to see. There were the remains of a fire still smoldering, sending up curls of smoke like lazy spirits going home. And there, huddled together and covered with a thin blanket, were the bodies of two men locked in a tight embrace, drifted snow cradling their faces.

   “Oh jeeze,” one of the officers commented. “Looks like we got ourselves a couple of stiffs. Better call it in.”

   The second officer stared uncomfortably at the bodies. “Will you look at that,” he said. “Two guys in each other’s arms. So desperate to keep warm they had to resort to that.” Thump thump.

Synopsis

Spritzer Vallier is the manager of a large commercial jug winery in Northern California. The new owner, Spritzer’s great-aunt Del, wants to make a quality champagne as well as the cheap wine that is the bedrock of their business. Being a down-to-earth, no-nonsense guy, Spritzer resists Del’s fantastic idea. However, she insists and hires Michel, a French champagne master, to direct the setup of the new venture for four years until Spritzer can take over the running of the winery by himself.

Spritzer and Michel must work closely together and right from the beginning it is clear there will be fireworks. Michel tends towards arrogance and control. Spritzer resents Michel’s authority and demands, and is a bit of a stubborn hot-head.

Keeping the two in check is Del—steady, caring, and wise, she directs the two toward the accomplishment of her dream.

Storms, accidents, and money problems plague the progress of the new winery, but eventually Michel and Spritzer work their way towards a successful conclusion to their efforts. But fate seems to have another destination for them as well, as they begin to fall in love with each other.

Excerpt

Spritzer: A Sparkling Gay Romance
Jon McDonald © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Spritzer Vallier stood in contemplation, gazing at the strange sight before him—a couple of dozen or more folks, dressed mostly in black, standing at the crest of a hill overlooking a Sonoma vineyard. It stretched out below them as far as one could see in every direction; rows and rows of cultivated grape vines, marching neatly in their straight lines. The early morning mists slowly evaporated in the warmth of the climbing morning sun.

Spritzer ran a hand through his dark, curly, unkempt hair, distracted from the immediacy of the memorial service for his recently departed great-uncle Tom, as his mind wandered to the urgent need to be harvesting the glowing, ripe grapes spread out before him. There is a moment when the grapes’ sugars are at their peak, and any delay might harm a season’s harvest. Spritzer had checked the sugar levels in the grapes just yesterday afternoon and decided that they should start the harvest today. But Aunt Del, Tom’s sister, had already arranged for the memorial service to be held this very morning.

He shook himself free from those thoughts, and turned his attention back to the droning priest. Spritzer was standing between his great-aunt Del—short for Deloris—and his childhood buddy, and occasional girlfriend, Kan. He turned to his aunt and squeezed her arm, as the priest extolled her brother’s many virtues.

“Are you holding up all right?” Spritzer asked gently.

Del looked over and smiled. “It’s still hard to believe he’s gone.”

“I know.”

Kan—blonde, lean, and tomboyish—leaned into Spritzer and whispered, “Nice service, don’t you think?”

Spritzer turned to her and said, “Yeah, yeah. But look at all those fuckin’ grapes. The old man would kick off just when I need to start the harvest, right?”

Just then, a biplane approached from behind the gathering, flew low over the heads of the crowd, and began to spray the vineyard.

Kan looked puzzled. “Isn’t this an odd time to be spraying insecticide, for Christ’s sake?”

“That’s not insecticide, that’s Uncle Tom,” Spritzer answered, with a flash of his quirky grin. Kan looked at him questioningly. “Some people want their ashes at sea. Uncle Tom…” He gestured toward the vineyard.

“Yuck. It’s going all over the grapes. What’s that going to do to the wine?”

Spritzer thought about that for a moment, then answered. “Probably make the horrid supermarket plonk we produce a hell of a lot better than it was when he was alive.”

Kan laughed and turned back to the service.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Meet the Author

Jon McDonald lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has seven published novels, a memoir, and three children’s books. His short stories have appeared in a number of prestigious publications. He considers himself a genre-bending author—he loves to take an established literary genre, play with it, and turn it on its head. He has lived abroad and traveled extensively.

Website | Facebook | eMail

Tour Schedule

3/27    Hoards Jumble

3/27    Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

3/28    The Novel Approach

3/28    Zipper Rippers

3/28    Happily Ever Chapter

3/29    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

3/29    Stories That Make You Smile 

3/30    Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

3/30    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

3/31    Bayou Book Junkie

3/31    MM Good Book Reviews

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BLOG TOUR: One Bullet by Casey Wolfe (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  One Bullet

Author: Casey Wolfe

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 27

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 50400

Genre: Romance, LGBT, gay, bisexual, law enforcement, PTSD, parkour, free running, therapy, healing, no explicit sex, slow burn-UST, friends to lovers.

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Synopsis

When Ethan Brant was shot, he found himself dealing with severe PTSD and unable to do his job as a police officer any longer. With the aid of Detective Shawn Greyson, the man who saved his life, Ethan not only finds himself again but discovers love as well.

Shawn’s life growing up was less than ideal, however, he overcame that to become who he is today. That doesn’t mean he isn’t missing something in his life. What Shawn hadn’t realized, upon first meeting, was that Ethan could give him all that and more.

One bullet changed both their lives.

Excerpt

One Bullet
Casey Wolfe © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Blood. So much blood. The echo of a gun. The smell of gunpowder. The sharp bite of a bullet. Viscous liquid slipping through his fingers.

Darkness. A voice coming through it. Words he should have recognized. Concerned, though not panicked. Surprisingly warm. Warm like the arms he was pulled into.

Flashing lights. Red. Red seen behind closed eyes. Like the blood on his hands, on the ground.

Cold. Like death.

Shooting up in bed, Ethan’s anguished cry died on his lips. He shook, breath ragged as he wiped away the cold sweat from his brow. More sweat covered his body, making goosebumps break out. His mouth was dry, throat sore from screaming. No doubt the neighbors would be complaining to building management again.

He wasn’t sure how long it took before his brain provided the vital information that he’d been dreaming. Ethan drew in a deep, shaky breath, letting it out slowly. He sat up fully, repeating the process and attempting to calm himself. It was a dream. Just a dream, he reminded himself. You’re safe. You’re alive. Just a dream.

When he felt that he wasn’t about to go into a full-blown panic attack at any moment, Ethan looked at his bedside clock. The glowing blue numbers informed him there wasn’t much point in attempting sleep again. Instead, he switched off the alarm and hauled himself out of bed, trudging toward the bathroom and a cold shower.

He pressed a hand to the tiles, leaning into the spray, head down. As water sloshed off his body, Ethan blew out a breath. He rubbed his free hand over his face before shaking his head as though he could shake out the memories. Sighing, he ran his fingers through his brunet hair. It was looking shabby and in need of a trim, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care.

He was losing some muscle as well. Much of that was due to his recovery after being in the hospital. He hadn’t been able to run with his parkour buddies until recently or do anything remotely resembling a sit-up. Still, becoming a twenty-six-year-old recluse wasn’t doing him any good either.

Ethan wasn’t vain, but he did like to stay in shape. His core was still there, even being as out of sorts as he was. Fingers ran across the small scar to the left of his navel, a reminder of the event months before that continued to shadow his every move.

Shutting the shower off, he grabbed a towel and dried his hair the best he could before wrapping the fabric around his waist. Water dripped onto the floor, but he paid it no mind, stopping at the sink to brush his teeth. He caught his reflection in the mirror, his dark-green eyes looking back, haunted.

It was going to be a long day.

* * *

The walk to work wasn’t far—roughly half a mile—so Ethan never found a point in taking public transport. Besides, the fresh air did him good. Well, as fresh as the air could be in the city. In any case, it was good for him to stretch his legs and clear his head. Unless the weather was poor, he gladly took the extra time to walk, and today was a clear and balmy summer day typical of Washington State.

Perhaps given how his day had started, he should have caught the bus. This was evident the second he looked up and saw a beat cop walking down the sidewalk toward him. Ethan froze momentarily. He tugged at the single strap across his chest, shifting the bag on his back. His eyes darted about, checking traffic and slipping across the street before the cop reached him.

The move must have looked suspicious as Ethan found himself approached by a police cruiser. It paced alongside him, and the officer in the passenger seat called out to him. “Hey, buddy.”

Ethan bit back the I’m not your buddy that was on the tip of his tongue and, instead, ignored him until the officer raised his voice. “Yeah?” he inquired, not stopping.

“Mind if we chat a minute?”

“Yeah, I do,” Ethan answered, turning sideways to slide past some people. “I need to get to work.”

“It’ll just take a minute,” the officer insisted in a tone meant to make him obey.

It was too bad that it didn’t work on someone like Ethan. Having been a cop himself, he knew the tricks. He also knew the law. There was no probable cause for them to detain him, so he needn’t stop at all. “Sorry. Can’t help you.”

The cruiser stopped, the officer getting out and moving into his path. “Sir.” Ethan backpedaled a few steps. He held up an arm, making a barrier between himself and the cop. He noted the man’s partner getting out of the driver’s side, walking to the back of the cruiser, and hovering there.

“Officer,” Ethan spoke as clearly as he could, “my name is Ethan Brant. There are standing orders within the department that any contact with me should be reported into dispatch immediately.” He was attempting to stay calm, but it was difficult as his muscles started to twitch.

The cop stepped forward. “Wait, wait, no…” Ethan began to panic, backing away. He was trying to get out the prepared speech as he was told to say it. Neither of the officers seemed as though they wanted to listen. “You’re not supposed to touch me. You’re supposed to keep your distance and call it in. Please.”

The moment a hand was laid on him, Ethan snapped. He shoved the cop away, taking off at a dead run.

A car slammed its brakes just in time to avoid hitting him, blocking his path. Instinct took over and Ethan slid right across the hood. He could hear the call for backup, but all he wanted was to vanish.

Free running with his friends may have been something he hadn’t done much since his accident, thanks to his long recovery, but muscle memory kicked in, and he let his mind go.

He ran between shops, a dumpster on the lowered backlot catching his eye. He cleared the safety railing without slowing, running across the top of the dumpster. With momentum, Ethan leapt off the other side, flipping before landing lightly on his feet.

He came out of the connecting alley into a shopping plaza, wide open for him to work with. Ethan made to turn left, spotting the cruiser that screamed up onto the sidewalk. In midrun he extended his foot out, springing off a bench and pushing his body in the opposite direction. Using the retaining wall of the decorative plant beds to avoid the crowd, he managed to get distance between them.

Ahead there was a set of stairs going down toward the park, and rather than avoid them, he used the terrain to his advantage. Diving forward, he cleared the stone rail, his palms touching the rail on the opposite side. He tucked his legs, missing both rails as he swung them forward, feet landing lightly on the ground. Despite protesting muscles, he repeated the same move for the next stairway.

As he kept running, he realized where he was. It didn’t matter that another set of cops had come in from the opposite end of the shopping plaza because Ethan wasn’t planning to use the traditional entrance. A brick wall with a switchback of stairs was at his right, and that was his means of escape.

Forgetting the stairs—which would only slow him down—he brought his left foot up to a railing, using it to launch him at the wall. He gripped the ledge above him, bringing his knees up to push with the balls of his feet. Muscling up made him grunt at the pain coursing through his abdomen, a move he shouldn’t have been doing just yet.

Somewhere in the back of his head, he was aware of the cops yelling in disbelief, getting their colleagues on the radio to update them on Ethan’s direction of travel. Ethan didn’t plan on the police being able to find him fast enough before he completely disappeared.

He ran across the street, jumping up and over the wooden bench in his path. Well aware of the laptop in his backpack, rather than simply tucking and rolling, he shifted his weight midair so he would land on his hip and leg, rolling through to his feet.

The entrance to the subway was right there, and he slid down the metal railing in the center of the stairwell.

Ethan’s breathing was ragged. It had been too long since he had a run like that; his muscles burned. He leaned a forearm on a pillar, waiting for the next train to pass through the subway. He just needed to sit, to center himself. A crowded morning train car wasn’t the best place, but he didn’t have much of a choice.

Even the strap of his backpack felt constraining across his chest. He yanked the strap over his head and set the bag onto the ground at his feet. Ethan took a deep lungful of air.

Just as he thought he was safe, someone grabbed his arm. Ethan simply reacted, using his strength to swing the man around to collide with the pillar. It was then Ethan saw his attacker was a cop, but he missed the officer’s partner.

Volts of electricity cascaded through his body, causing Ethan’s legs to buckle, and he went down on the tiled platform. He was helpless to stop the officer who put a knee in his back, grabbing his arms. Panic seeped into every pore. The click of the handcuffs as the cold metal wrapped around his wrist made him struggle. It was in vain; a second shocking jolt was sent through him.

“Get off him!” a man ordered. “Now!” It took Ethan a moment to recognize the smooth cadence and authoritative tone. He craned his neck, tears stinging his eyes, to gaze on Detective Shawn Greyson. When the officers protested, Shawn held up his badge and glowered. “Stand down,” he growled, physically removing them.

“We just chased this kid all over the damn city!” one argued. “Just ’cause yer a detective—”

“I said back off!” Shawn yelled, eyes like fire and his entire presence radiating danger. It was more than enough to have both of them doing as they were told.

Shawn immediately crouched next to Ethan and unhooked the cuffs. Shawn helped him to sit, running his hands up and down Ethan’s arms. “Hey, you’re alright. You’re safe,” Shawn assured him, voice low and easy. Ethan met deep blue-gray eyes, heart-wrenching at the sight of the friendly face. “Just focus on your breathing, okay? I’ve got you.”

Ethan nodded, thankful for the watchful gaze that allowed him to concentrate on centering himself. He listened to Shawn’s steady voice, not even focusing on the words so much as the calming tone. Shawn’s touch was reassuring, hands continuing their path up and down Ethan’s arms before grasping his shoulders.

“That’s it,” Shawn spoke. “There you go.” Ethan took a deep breath, looking at him once more. Shawn smiled encouragingly. “Better?” Ethan gave a slight nod, not trusting his voice just yet. “Okay. Take your time.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Meet the Author

Author of gay romantic fiction, from contemporary to paranormal and everything in between.

For Casey, existence equals writing. History nerd, film enthusiast, music lover, avid gamer, and just an all-around geek. Add in an unapologetic addiction to loose-leaf tea and you get the general picture. Married, with furry four-legged children, Casey lives happily in the middle of nowhere Ohio.

Website | Facebook | eMail | Tumblr

Tour Schedule

3/27    Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

3/27    MM Good Book Reviews

3/28    Dog-Eared Daydreams  

3/28    BFD Book Blog

3/29    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

3/29    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

3/30    Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

3/30    Happily Ever Chapter

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A MelanieM Release Day Review: Bonfires by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Ten years ago Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron George lost his wife and moved to Colton, hoping growing up in a small town would be better for his children. He’s gotten to know his community, including Mr. Larkin, the bouncy, funny science teacher. But when Larx is dragged unwillingly into administration, he stops coaching the track team and starts running alone. Aaron—who thought life began and ended with his kids—is distracted by a glistening chest and a principal running on a dangerous road.

Larx has been living for his kids too—and for his students at Colton High. He’s not ready to be charmed by Aaron, but when they start running together, he comes to appreciate the deputy’s steadiness, humor, and complete understanding of Larx’s priorities. Children first, job second, his own interests a sad last.

It only takes one kiss for two men approaching fifty to start acting like teenagers in love, even amid all the responsibilities they shoulder. Then an act of violence puts their burgeoning relationship on hold. The adult responsibilities they’ve embraced are now instrumental in keeping their town from exploding. When things come to a head, they realize their newly forged family might be what keeps the world from spinning out of control.

Bonfires is one of those Amy Lane books that’s bigger than any review any reader could possibly write about it.  It encompasses so many huge elements and hits so many big emotional targets that when it comes to pulling it all together in one review I find it escapes me.  It doesn’t help that you go willingly into this story knowing there’s an aspect of it that’s going to tear you apart in Amy Lane’s “shred your heart” way.  You do it knowing something worthwhile will come out of it, as it does here.

Bonfires is not simply a romance any more than starting a fire is about putting two twigs together and expecting a spark. No, Bonfires is about how families are built, how foundations are laid for people to come together to become a strong cohesive unit, powerful enough to withstand some of life’s worst blows, public condemnation and more.  First you get these two men who have already had long relationships that led to having families and children. The men are real, grounded in their lives and ages.  You get them and understand them immediately.

Then you get the amazing, believable, (and not so amazing) kids on both sides.  Yes, just as in life, not all the offspring are sweetness and light.  That’s always a relief to see that bit of reality hit the pages even if its not so welcome for the couple. There’s no instant meshing of families.  Things take time, talking, and work.  There’s actual adulting here.  There’s two houses, schedules, and how and if to come out to your various working environments and staff.  Complicated? You bet and  absolutely absorbing.  Why?  Because we care about these men and children.   We gotten to know them intimately.  At school and at their workplaces.  So when deeply concerning things are happening at the school to people, adult and teens we are intensely concerned about, we care about that too.

Along with Aaron and Larx trying to figure things out for themselves and their kids, there’s another storyline unfolding that’s of equal importance and intertwined with Aaron and Larx.  Its the element with the tragic repercussions that reverberate throughout the community and the two men’s burgeoning relationship.  All things elements, all these pieces of tinder that add up to Amy Lane’s powerful Bonfire….and there’s more.  Of course, there’s always more…

When I  said its about families.  I mean families of all types. Its also the flip side of families…those that do irreparable damage to their young and their community.  And its about the larger families found within the various social communities.  Here Amy Lane’s knowledge of the school system comes in handy with the interplay with the Board of Directors, the various school teachers and factions within the education system.  It all rings very true.

At the end of Bonfires, when you finish the last sentence and reflect back on all those lives and people that Amy Lane created and you spent time with, the tears shed,  the hearts that broke and got pieced back together again, the families made into one…I still think back over this incredible story and realize there’s so much more that I never addressed or could even begin to.   Its as though she crammed a series into one book and no one noticed.  What I do think you should do is read this book.  Its one for thinking about, thinking about families and love and all the astonishing things it takes to get that right.  If we’re lucky and work hard.   When making my Best of 2017 List, Bonfires will be on it.  That’s my recommendation.

Cover Artist: Anne Cain.  Works for the story, although I’m not sure I’m that crazy about it.  Don’t exactly know why.

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Book Details:

ebook, 280 pages
Expected publication: March 24th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press, LLC
Original TitleBonfires
ISBN 1635333415 (ISBN13: 9781635333411)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Leaning Into the Fall (Leaning Into #2) by Lane Hayes

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Lane Hayes is one of my favorite authors, and this story proves why. Faced with a secondary character in a short story who was really the anti-hero—a bisexual guy who jilted his (female) fiancé and disappointed his best friend and business partner—Ms. Hayes decided to give him his own story, in which he demonstrates why he was such a letdown in book one, and then falls into deep and everlasting love with a handsome and sweet older man.

I was skeptical when we first saw Nick in this story—buried nose-deep in code in his and Eric’s IT security business—and seemingly clueless to what’s going on in the rest of the world. He keeps bugging his BFF friend Eric, who’s on a well-deserved honeymoon vacation in Bora Bora, so faced with penalty of death from Eric’s new husband, Zane, (Leaning Into Love) Nick decides to take a break from work and return the wine he purchased as a wedding favor for his own cancelled wedding months ago.

There he runs headlong into Wes Conrad, winery owner, who refuses to allow Nick to return the wine that was labelled with the personal information for Nick’s wedding. It’s company policy not to take it back, and Wes digs in his heels and outright refuses. And so begins the crappiest day of Nick’s life, but also one that turns out to be the day he went head-on with the man who would ultimately become the most important person in his life.

I love the way the author took the time to explain and explore Nick’s issues—issues with antisocial behavior, a constant side focus on the numbers in his head—mathematical equations—that needed to be addressed. She also gave Nick an older, more mature man—one who has lived through multiple life experiences, including the tragic loss of his business, his former lover, and a good friend. Wes has the maturity and the patience to handle Nick, and though wildly attracted to one another from early in the story, there’s no rush into deep and everlasting love. It evolves over time, and every moment and every step of the way is absolutely necessary for this couple. Business deals, takeover possibilities, poor decisions, partnership problems—this story has it all. But most of all? It has a young man who seemed to be irredeemable learn to face his issues and take responsibility for his own actions and then take the leap into falling head over heels with the man he most needs in this world.

That might sound a bit mushy and romantic, but that’s how I saw it. And I have a particular soft spot in my heart for older men who find romance in the MM genre. This one is terrific, and I highly recommend it. Why not a full 5 stars? I couldn’t shake all of the prejudice I had against Nick from the first book. Let’s just say he’s darn lucky he had such a great author to tell his story. And I can’t wait to see if Ms. Hayes has more in store for us in this series. I suspect maybe Nick and Eric’s friend Josh will be next. Can’t wait!

~~~~
Cover by Reese Dante is similar to the first cover in that it features a faceless male torso, with opened shirt, against a background of the San Francisco skyline and bay.

Sales Links

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 228 pages
Published March 15th 2017 by Self Pub
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLeaning Into #2

In the YA Spotlight: A Boy Worth Knowing by Jennifer Cosgrove (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  A Boy Worth Knowing

Author: Jennifer Cosgrove

Publisher:  NineStar Press – SunFire Imprint

Release Date: March 20

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 62200

Genre: Romance, Young Adult, NineStar Press, LGBT, gay, bisexual, romance, young adult, contemporary, paranormal, coming of age, ghosts, family drama, high school, bullying

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Synopsis

Ghosts can’t seem to keep their opinions to themselves.

Seventeen-year-old Nate Shaw should know; he’s been talking to them since he was twelve. But they aren’t the only ones making his high school years a living hell. All Nate wants is to keep his secret and keep his head down until he can graduate. That is, until the new boy, James Powell, takes a seat next to him in homeroom. James not only notices him, he manages to work his way into Nate’s life. But James has issues of his own.

Between dead grandmothers and living aunts, Nate has to navigate the fact that he’s falling in love with his only friend, all while getting advice from the most unusual places.

Ghosts, bullies, first love: it’s a lot to deal with when you’re just trying to survive senior year.

Excerpt

A Boy Worth Knowing
Jennifer Cosgrove © 2017
All Rights Reserved

I loved autumn mornings.

The October air was just cold enough to set my lungs on fire, my breath visible in clouds of condensation, forcing all of the crap clogging up my head into the recycle bin. Bonus, I could pretend I was a dragon. Nothing could touch me; my morning run made everything go away, lost in miles at a time. Down an isolated country road.

Everything changed when I was twelve, and not for the better. That was when I started running. Five years of road I’d put behind me. My mom worried about me the first time I took off alone. Well, when she used to worry about me. I wished she was more worried about the reason I was running instead of the fact I was doing it down an empty road.

I turned the corner about a mile after leaving home, and that was when I saw him. Samuel was always lurking among the sunken headstones. Most people had no clue there used to be a cemetery out there. Looking closely, some of the stones that made up the foundation of the chapel could still be seen. No one else ever paid that much attention to it. Samuel glared at me as I got closer. He was a surly one.

My life was like the horror movies I loved. I talked to the dead. Well, technically dead. They were really spirits, or whatever. Whatever was left behind when people died. And they talked to me, for some reason. There was nothing like sitting in math class and having a ghost whisper in my ear while trying to take notes.

It happened all the damn time. I didn’t know how to handle it at first. And no one wanted to hang out with the crazy kid in the back of the room, muttering away to himself. I got used to it. Really. And the lack of a social life helped me get all of my homework done on time; all of the teachers loved me. That was good. Talking to ghosts wasn’t all bad.

I waved at Samuel as I ran by the cemetery. He shook a fist at me in return. Samuel wasn’t evil or anything, just grumpy. Couldn’t blame him, though. I looked him up one time and found out he’d died in the late eighteen hundreds. The cause of death on record was a heart attack. But Samuel told me his brother-in-law had poisoned him because he wouldn’t sell him his prize mule. I had no clue what was so special about that mule, but his brother-in-law evidently thought it was worth killing him over. I’d have been pretty surly myself.

Past the forgotten cemetery, a few miles to the McGregor farm, and then I’d swing around for home. Yes, I said McGregor farm. Small-town life— I couldn’t have made this stuff up if I’d tried.

There was another house just past the farm where I had to watch out for their beast of a dog. Dogs weren’t huge fans of mine. My Nana had a theory they could sense a bit of whatever it was that let us chat with those who’d “passed on.” I had no idea how that was even possible, but cats loved me, so yay.

Speaking of which, Aunt Susan’s overly fluffy cat waited by our mailbox. Arthur did that every time I went out for a run. He would sit there and then fall in behind to follow up the driveway until we got to the house. Then, it was a shady spot on the porch in the summer or, if it was cold like that day, into the house in front of the fireplace. I loved predictability.

The house used to be my grandmother’s. It was a standard farmhouse, old and creaky just like dozens more all around us, and it could have stood a little paint. But we called it home, and we liked it. It became Aunt Susan’s home. It had been left to her after Nana died, since my mom already owned one. It was a little out of the way and a long drive to the hospital where my aunt worked. But it was paid for, and that meant a lot.

I had to be quiet going in because Aunt Susan was not a morning person, and the floor squeaked just inside the back door. I was very much a morning person, and I followed the same routine each school or work day. Flipping on the coffee maker, I headed to my room to get ready for school. I got the shower running, since it took a while to heat up in an old farmhouse, and took a sniff to make sure a shower was actually necessary. Oh, yeah. I was gross.

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Meet the Author

Jennifer has always been a voracious reader and a well-established geek from an early age. She loves comics, movies, and anything that tells a compelling story.

When not writing, she likes knitting, dissecting/arguing about movies with her husband, and enjoying the general chaos that comes with having kids.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

Tour Schedule

3/20 – My Fiction Nook

3/20 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

3/20 – Just Love

3/21 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

3/21 – Diverse Reader

3/21 – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

3/22 – V’s Reads

3/22 – Molly Lolly

3/22 – MM Good Book Reviews

3/23 – Liz’s Reading Life

3/23 – Stories That Make You Smile

3/23 – Dog-Eared Daydreams

3/24 – Bayou Book Junkie

3/24 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews

3/24 – Love Bytes Reviews

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Love Contemporary Romance? Check Out Lane Hayes’ Leaning Into the Fall Blog Tour and Giveaway

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Title:  Leaning Into the Fall

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #2

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher:  Self-Published

Release Date: March 10

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: Approximately 77K words

Genre: Romance, Erotica, Bisexual, humor, San Francisco, May to December romance

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Synopsis

Nick Jorgensen is a quirky genius. He’s made a fortune in the competitive high tech field with his quick mind and attention to detail. He believes in hard work and trusting his gut. And he believes in karma. It’s the only thing that makes sense. People are difficult, but numbers never lie. In the disastrous wake of a broken engagement to an investor’s daughter, Nick is more certain than ever he isn’t relationship material.

Wes Conrad owns a thriving winery in Napa Valley. The relaxed atmosphere is a welcome departure from his former career as a high-rolling businessman. Wes’s laid-back nature is laced with a fierceness that appeals to Nick. In spite of his best intention to steer clear of complications, Nick can’t fight his growing attraction to the sexy older man who seems to understand him. Even the broken parts he doesn’t get himself. However, when Wes’s past collides with Nick’s present, both men will have to have to decide if they’re ready to lean into the ultimate fall.

Excerpt

Leaning Into the Fall by Lane Hayes- Exclusive Excerpt

There was a feral edge to Wes’s intense gaze that made my stomach drop. I didn’t get him. He hadn’t been pleased to see me when I showed up at the winery a second time looking like I’d bathed in a vat of Pinot, but he’d invited me into his house and given me dry clothes anyway. Now he was staring me down, daring me to say or do something stupid so he’d have an excuse to toss my ass back out again.

He moved toward the built-in bar and chose a bottle of red wine from a glass shelf then uncorked the bottle and poured a trace amount of the burgundy liquid into a wineglass. He swirled it expertly so that no portion of the glass was untouched.

“Why do you do that? Is that a necessary wine thing or is it for show?”

Wes glanced up with a frown. “Weren’t you going to change?”

The not-so-subtle dismissal was laced with challenge. Maybe he didn’t like to be questioned. Or maybe he remembered he didn’t actually like me and that it might be best to downgrade the hospitality before I got any crazy ideas about us being new buddies. I wasn’t prone to overanalyze any interpersonal interaction. My instincts were socially iffy anyway.

I kept my eyes locked on his and stepped away from the fire. Then I yanked my sweater over my head and began the arduous chore of unbuttoning my oxford shirt, one tiny button at a time.

“Yes,” I answered with a smile, slipping my ruined shirt over my shoulders.

I opened my mouth to say who knows what, but I lost my train of thought when Wes moved toward me, carrying the bottle and two wineglasses. He set everything on the coffee table, picked up the navy T-shirt and handed it to me.

“Are you gonna help me get dressed?”

My voice sounded lower than normal. I was going for mildly flirtatious and ended up sounding inappropriate. It wasn’t the sort of thing that bothered me usually, but there was something vaguely intimidating about this guy.

“If you need assistance, I’m happy to lend a hand,” he countered with a wry grin.

My blush was instantaneous. I felt exposed and maybe even a little childish, but still turned on. My dick swelled in my khakis and though he wasn’t looking at my crotch, I had a strong feeling he knew where my dirty mind had gone. His intense expression didn’t help. He didn’t blink. Or smile. He simply held my gaze until I grabbed the shirt from him and yanked it over my head like a petulant teenager.

Wes chuckled softly and then bent to pour the wine. I rested my fingers on my belt and studied his profile. The silver highlights at his temple glinted in the firelight. The contrast of color gave him an appealing distinguished look. I didn’t care how old he was. Wes Conrad was hot. And gay.

Not that I was interested, of course. It was just an observation.

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Lane Hayes Website

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Tour Schedule

3/15 – Love Bytes Reviews

3/15 – MM Book Escape

3/15 – Zipper Rippers

3/17- Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

3/17 – Books, Dreams, Life

3/21 – Joyfully Jay

3/21 – V’s Reads

3/21 – Divine Magazine

3/21 – The Novel Approach

3/23 – Prism Book Alliance

3/23 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

3/23 – BFD Book Blog

3/29 – Alpha Book Club

3/29 – Bayou Book Junkie

3/29 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews

3/31 – MM Good Book Reviews

3/31 – Dog-Eared Daydreams

3/31 – Reviews by Tammy and Kim

3/31 – Happily Ever Chapter

3/31 – Top 2 Bottom Reviews

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A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Who We Are by Nicola Haken

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Since putting his life on hold ten years ago, Oliver Clayton doesn’t know who he is anymore. To his clients at the hair salon, he’s the sassy and confident stylist. To the crowds who come to watch his drag act at the club, he’s the fierce and fabulous Miss Tique. He’s popular. Talented. Out, proud, and self-assured.

He’s also a good actor.

Sebastian Day is content with life’s easy, if not a little monotonous, routine. After several failed relationships, he likes the simplicity of being alone in his truck at his job as a heavy goods driver, spending the weekends with his teenage son, and putting the world to rights with his cat, Marv. He’s not lonely. He isn’t hiding.

At least…he doesn’t think he is until he meets the mesmerising stranger with the red hair and purple lips.

Can Oliver and Sebastian help each other embrace who they are? Or will a cruel twist of fate end their journey before it’s even begun?

Who We Are is just a superb bit of storytelling, from the incredible characters to the heartrending life obstacles and things almost guaranteed to derail all our hopes, dreams and plans for happiness that get thrown in these characters way.  Haken charts it all out here and then realistically manages to give us and her characters the ending we are crying out for.  How  I adored this story.

Of course, any outstanding story has to have its foundation in its characters and that especially true with Who We Are.  But its not just Ollie Clayton and Seb Day that we get here (although they are so incredible that would it be just them, it would still be a 5 star tale). No, its all the characters that circle them with an almost gravitational pull.  From Tyler, the brother Ollie has brought up and supported since their mother died of cancer to Scott, Seb’s son, (and the other family equally great), to mothers, fathers, uncles, best friends, the author has created a community for Ollie and Seb to live within that’s so vibrant and meaningful that the reader easily loses themselves to the story and to the lives of all the people they meet within.  Each person moved me with what was going on in their lives and how they were or weren’t handling it. These were layered human beings who acted their ages, had problems and conversations that reflected that as well.  I believed in them with all my heart and needed them to move forward any way they could.

Oh, the issues these people faced….a myriad of them.  This story unfolds so beautifully, especially the courtship of Ollie and Seb.  The awkward flirting, the funny meetings that slowly turn into deep feelings.  The butterflies in the stomach that the reader feels as well.  Grab that box of tissues.  These two will sink deep into your heart as they do with each other.  Soulmates has never felt so true.

But life is harsh as Ollie has learned over and over.  I think Nicola Haken has taken a stark look at what happens to people, their relationships when life deals them a tough blow.  This section is just as wonderful and terrifying as everything that went before.  And for some, maybe the hardest pages to read.

But that ending…that wipe your tears, grab up the book and start from the beginning again ending….yes…simply splendid.  I see and then hear these words in my head and immediately, I start smiling and reaching for the Kindle in anticipation of a book I’m happily recommending to you all:

“Are you flirting with me?”
“Is it working?”
“Maybe”

Cover art is perfect for the character and story.

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Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 271 pages
Published March 8th 2017
ASINB06XHGDVGF

In the Science Fiction Spotlight: Ardulum: First Don by J.S. Fields (exclusive excerpt)

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Ardulum: First Don by J.S. Fields
Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: February 27
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34109678-ardulum

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host J.S. Fields today on tour with Ardulum: First Don.

Synopsis

 

Ardulum. The planet that vanishes. The planet that sleeps.

Neek makes a living piloting the dilapidated tramp transport, Mercy’s Pledge, and smuggling questionable goods across systems blessed with peace and prosperity. She gets by—but only just. In her dreams, she is still haunted by thoughts of Ardulum, the traveling planet that, long ago, visited her homeworld. The Ardulans brought with them agriculture, art, interstellar technology…and then disappeared without a trace, leaving Neek’s people to worship them as gods.

Neek does not believe—and has paid dearly for it with an exile from her home for her heretical views.

Yet, when the crew stumbles into an armed confrontation between the sheriffs of the Charted Systems and an unknown species, fate deals Neek an unexpected hand in the form of a slave girl—a child whose ability to telepathically manipulate cellulose is reminiscent of that of an Ardulan god. Forced to reconcile her beliefs, Neek chooses to protect her, but is the child the key to her salvation, or will she lead them all to their deaths?

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex
Pairing: Female/Female
Length: 83500

Genre: Literary Fiction, Science Fiction, NineStar Press, LGBT, lesbian, bisexual, space opera, aliens, bonded, captivity, coming of age, criminals, kidnapping, pilot, religion, science, slow burn, smugglers, space, spaceships, telekinesis, telepathyExcerpt

 

Ardulum: First Don
J.S. Fields © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

 

Exclusive Excerpt

In this excerpt, Neek, the pilot of the tramp transport Mercy’s Pledge, stumbles into a battle between the supposed sheriffs of the Charted Systems, and an unknown alien species. This is a significant event, because the Systems have been at peace, absolute peace, for years, so conflict of this magnitude is unheard of. Something is clearly of value on the Risalian ship, and crew of the Pledge are about to have that ‘something’ dumped into their laps.

“Get those skiffs off our tail!” Captain Yorden Kuebrich yelled as Neek rounded the corner.

She looked out the viewscreen just in time to see the Pledge—her engines dead—exit the Callis Wormhole into the middle of a much-unexpected dogfight. A wedge-shaped Risalian skiff zipped past the Pledge, catching the edge of the ship on its wing, and started her into a slow spin. A pod, deep purple and about half the size of the skiff, chased the skiff and grazed their starboard flank. Neek braced herself against the console and heard Yorden tumble into the wall behind her, his substantial girth denting the aluminum.

Mentally cursing the ship’s poor artificial gravity, Neek launched herself into the pilot’s chair, grabbed the yoke, and scoured the latest damage report. “Aft stabilizer is shot,” she called out after checking the computer. Other skiffs near them suddenly swooped back into a larger group, and the Pledge was, for the moment, left alone. Neek released the yoke and let her fingers move deftly over the interface. “Those new spray-on cellulose binders for the hull are holding, but only just. What’s left of the Minoran armor plating is now officially cracked beyond repair.”

She swiveled to see the captain buckling himself into a much larger version of her own chair. His brown hair puffed about his head, per usual, but his body language spoke of surprise and tension. That concerned Neek because Yorden was old enough to have lived through actual conflicts. If anyone knew how to react in a situation like this, it was him.

“Were we just attacked?” she asked incredulously. Neek took a closer look out the viewscreen. The rectangular cutter that sparkled with pinpricks of light and the wedge-shaped, agile skiffs were Risalian. The pods—both the smaller purple ones and the frigate-sized, maroon ones—were unfamiliar. Their formations were just as strange, stacked in columns like stones on a riverbank instead of in pyrimidal and spherical formations like Systems ships would. “Are those all Charted Systems ships?”

Yorden threw up his hands in disgust. “They’re not just Charted Systems ships—they’re Risalian ships. The cutter and skiffs are, anyway. No clue on the pods. What those blue-skinned bastards are doing out here with fully weaponized ships, I can only guess. However, they’re firing lasers. If we lose our armor and take a hit from any of those, we are space dust.”

“Comforting,” Neek mumbled. She hadn’t noticed the laser ports on any of the ships, but now that she looked closer, all of the vessels were covered with armor plating and had at least two laser turrets each.

Neek continued to watch as the pods begin to cluster around a Risalian cutter. A pod ship zipped beneath the cutter, firing wildly at its underside, before making a quick right turn and heading back to a larger pod. Five others followed suit. The cutter’s shielding began to splinter, but the ship remained where it was.

Neek leaned towards the viewscreen, still unsure what she was seeing. “The Risalian ships aren’t chasing, they’re just defending. What is going on? If they’re going to appoint themselves sheriffs of the Charted Systems, they could at least fight back.”

Yorden smacked his hand against the wall, loosing a shower of dust. “Something on that Risalian ship is holding their attention. Get us out of here, before either of them gets any closer.” He pointed to a cluster of ships to Neek’s right, and her eyes followed. Little flashes of bright light sparked and then died intermittently as ships were destroyed, their flotsam creating an ever-expanding ring. A large piece of metal plating floated past the Pledge’s port window. The edge caught and left a thin scratch in the fiberglass as it slid off.

“What are they protecting that is so damn important?” Neek wondered out loud and then snorted. “Something worth more than our hold full of diamond rounds and cellulose-laced textiles?” she added cheekily.

Scowling, Yorden pushed Neek’s hand away from the computer and began his own scan of the Pledge’s systems. “Communications are still up, but I don’t think either party is listening right now.” Frustrated, he kicked the underside of the console. “Try one of them. Better than being crushed.”

“Captain, come on. We are dead in space. If another one comes at us, why don’t we just fire at it? It’s better than being rammed.” She pointed upwards at a circular hole in the ceiling. “What’s the benefit of flying a ship so ancient it falls apart if you’re not taking advantage of the grandfathered weapons system?”

 

Meet the Author

 

Author Links

 

Website: http://www.chlorociboria.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/galactoglucoman

eMail: chlorociboria@gmail.com

 

Tour Schedule

 

2/27 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews – http://wickedfaeriesreviews.blogspot.com

2/27 – Books,Dreams,Life – http://staceyschneller06.wordpress.com

2/28 – Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words – https://mollylollyauthor.wordpress.com

3/1 – Queer Sci Fi – https://queerscifi.com/

3/1 – Celticlady’s Reviews – http://www.celticladysreviews.blogspot.com

3/2 – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cent – http://fangirlmomentsandmytwocents.blogspot.com

3/3 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words – https://scatteredthoughtsandroguewords.com/

3/4 – Love Bytes Reviews – http://lovebytesreviews.com/

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One lucky winner will receive an ebook of their choice from NineStar Press
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Release Day Blitz: Leaning Into Love (Leaning into Stories #1) by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Leaning Into Love

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #1

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: February 10th

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: Approximately 24K words

Genre: Romance, Erotica, Friends to lovers, surfer, white collar, San Francisco, bisexual

Available for Purchase ata6e28-amazon

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Eric Schuster is a successful guy. He’s part owner of a highly successful tech firm, he has a supportive family and a great group of close friends. But something is missing. Or maybe he’s reacting to his business partner and ex’s wedding news. He knows his former lover is making a big mistake but he also knows it’s time to move on. And hopefully avoid falling for another friend.

Zane Richards is an avid sailor and surfer with a laid-back approach to life. He firmly believes there’s a time and place for everything if you’re willing to take a chance. Like letting his best friend know he’s interested in being much more than friends. Eric has always been half in love with Zane but going from friends to lovers isn’t an easy sell for someone protecting his heart. Eric will have to decide if he’s willing to risk it all by leaning into love.

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Excerpt

Zane refilled my glass and returned it to me with a naughty smirk. “You get kinda corny when you’re tipsy, Schuster. It’s cute.”

“Cute?”

“Yeah. You get goofy. Your ears turn red and it makes the freckles on your nose stand out. Then you do that thing with your hair where you swipe your hand through it so many times that it looks like you just rolled out of bed.”

“Uh…okay. That’s embarrassing.” I searched for a reflective surface as I attempted to pat my unruly brown hair into some semblance of order. “I was going for debonair and I got bar mitzvah kid chic,” I grumbled.

Zane leaned forward and gave me an intense look I didn’t understand.

“You don’t have to be anyone but yourself with me, Eric. I like you just the way you are.” He sat back again and cocked his head. “So let’s talk about this stupid engagement party. What’s the dress code?”

“Um… it’s probably dressy casual,” I replied with a furrowed brow. I wanted to back up a sentence or two and analyze his words and dissect the meaning of “I like you just the way you are”.

“The usual oxymoron,” he snarked. “You are going with me, right?”

“Sure. If you want.”

“I want. It’ll save us both the trouble of finding some poor unsuspecting sucker to drag to a fancy shindig.”

“True. Speaking of suckers, don’t you have a date tonight?”

Zane glanced at his watch and then stretched his legs out on the bench so his shoe nudged my thigh. “I’ve got time. Talk to me. What else have you been up to lately? I noticed there’s a new exhibit at the Modern Museum. Have you gone? I think it’s a midcentury retrospective with Motherwell and de Kooning. I know you like the scribbly art and…”

His conversation was easy. The gentrified version of his former surfer dude accent had a lilting quality I could have listened to for hours. I felt myself truly begin to relax and let go of the invisible hold I’d had on my emotions, like a swimmer grasping onto a ledge who finally realizes he can reach the bottom of the pool. Being with someone who knew quirky details about me and accepted them without judgment or reservation was a gift.

I treasured all of my friends, but Zane was special. Our friendship was rooted in geography and history and now time. He wasn’t making a romantic advance when he asked me to attend Nick’s engagement party with him. That was latent wishful thinking on my part. Zane was simply being who he always was. My oldest and best friend.

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Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

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